MOTORISTS are being urged to be vigilant after brazen thieves snatched a catalytic converter from underneath a car in broad daylight.

The incident happened in the George Yard shopping centre car park in Braintree and police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

The catalytic converter was taken from underneath a Toyota which had been parked on the first floor between 8am and 5pm.

The owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the theft has made her aware of the growing problem of car parts being stolen from vehicles.

She said: “I got back after my shift and turned my car on and it made a really loud bang.

“I had someone come out to take a look at it and when they looked underneath they saw the catalytic converter had been stolen.

“Apparently it’s becoming quite common with Toyotas and Hondas because they’re built with precious metals.

“I was told it can take about three minutes to remove a catalytic converter but there’s a video on YouTube which shows it can be done in about 60 seconds.

“It’s terrifying.”

The victim was left without a vehicle for several days and was forced to miss work on occasions because she was unable to travel in from her home in Great Bentley.

She had to fork out £300 on a replacement but admits she is fearful she will be targeted by thieves again.

She added: “I was really upset when I found out what had happened.

“I had stupidly parked in a quiet spot where there was no CCTV so there’s no way of telling who has done it.

“But I was still shocked that something like this was done in a public car park. It’s horrible to think something of yours has just been taken like that.

“I’m very fond of my car and have had it since it was new.

“I’m worried they will try and do it again.

“I feel like I should leave a note on my car telling the thieves the catalytic converter has already been stolen and it’s not worth stealing the replacement because it’s just an ordinary one.”

She added: “My message to people is be careful where you park and make sure it is always somewhere that has CCTV or people nearby.

“You wouldn’t expect people to try and steal bits off your car but if they did it to mine in a car park, they can do it anywhere.”

Essex Police are investigating the theft, which happened on Monday, September 7, and appealing for any witnesses to come forward.

Anyone with information should contact Braintree police station on 101 quoting crime reference 42/143151/20.